previous next

Letter V, To Alexander.

7. To Alexander. [Ep. v.]—Alexander was with his father1 at the time when Isokrates wrote this Letter, which was sent along with one addressed to Philip—doubtless the Letter just analysed. Philip was in Thrace or the Chersonese from May, 342, to the latter part of 339 B.C.; and, at some time after his departure, appointed Alexander his regent in Macedonia2. But, when this Letter was written, that arrangement had not yet been made. Alexander, a boy of fourteen, is busy with his studies; and Isokrates cannot refrain from a little thrust at the young prince's new tutor. It was probably in this very year (342) that Alexander began to receive the lessons of Aristotle3.

‘As I am writing to your father, and you are with him,

it would be strange if I did not greet you also, and show that old age has still left me some sense. (§ 1.) All say that you are kindly, fond of Athens, fond of learning,—and this in a wise way. The Athenians with whom you live are not uncultivated men, with low political views; but men pleasant socially, and also able to give sound counsel. Your chosen philosophy is not the eristic, which teaches subtlety in private discussion; but the practical philosophy which educates a statesman in debate, in political action, in discerning right and wrong. (§§ 2—4.) You do well to make this your study; and give promise of surpassing other men as far as your father has surpassed all.’ (§ 5.)

1 The phrase in § 1, περὶ τὸν αὐτὸν ὄντα σὲ τόπον ἐκείνῳ, seems to imply a foreign region. The danger in which Philip's life had just been placed would account for Alexander having been summoned to him.

2 Schäfer, Dem. II. 416.

3 Apollodoros stated in his χρονικά that Aristotle came to Philip's court ἐπὶ Πυθοδότου ἄρχοντος, Ol. 109. 2, 34 3/2 B.C., Diog. V. 10. Apollodoros adds Ἀλεξάνδρου πεντεκαίδεκ᾽ ἔτη ἤδη γεγονότος. Alexander only completed his 14th year in July, 342 B.C. He can but barely have entered on his 15th year when Pythodotos ceased to be archon.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: